So You Have 51 Animals in Your Rented Home, Claim to Run a No-Kill Shelter and You Write Notes to Your Dead Veterinarian? Nah, No Reason to Think Those Animals Aren't Okay!
Last month, Almita Flores of Houston found a gorgeous yellow lab. She says she posted flyers in her neighborhood as well as a notice on Craigslist, but never heard from anyone claiming to be the owner. After two weeks, she says, the dog -- who she decided to call Max -- got out of her gate, only to return with a five-inch gash, two deep holes in his hind legs, and swollen genitals. Naturally, Flores panicked.
Is Max alive? Eh, maybe.
Feeling overwhelmed and not thinking clearly, Flores posted on Craigslist again, asking for help on what to do for Max, rather than taking Max to an emergency vet. Flores said she got a lot of emails, but only one phone call -- from a woman she says who claimed to run an animal rescue. So this is how Max wound up in the hands of a woman named Michele Dow, and how no one -- not Flores, not the Houston Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, not Waller County Animal Control -- can even say if Max is still alive.
There's really no way to quickly capture the way law enforcement and a supposed animal cruelty investigative organization appear to have dropped the ball, so please bear with us.
Flores tells Hair Balls she drove out to the home Dow rents in Pattison, just outside Brookshire. She described the setting as an overgrown shack with "dogs all over the place," trash, and a golden retriever "with two deep holes on his back." She says Dow told her "another dog had bitten him."
Why Flores didn't get out of Dodge at that point is a maddening mystery, for which she's kicking herself.
"My god it was a mess," Flores explained in an email. "She went to the back of her home and brought back a dirty muddy water hose." Flores wrote that Dow "stuck the water hose into his wounds" and that Max "whined in pain."
When Flores went to her car to get a blanket, she wrote, Dow took Max in the home. Inside, Flores wrote, were dogs stacked in cages all over the kitchen and dining room. Flores said she was taking Max and splitting.
According to Flores, Dow "began raising her voice saying that I was selfish and that I probably could not afford to take care of the dog and that she needed to keep the lab over night." She said the dog needed more "therapy," according to Flores.
The more Dow rambled, the more Flores -- stuck out in the middle of nowhere -- freaked out. So she left. And then she lied. She called Dow and told her she had just heard from the owner, so she'd need to come back and get Max. No sale.
The more Flores called, begging to get Max, the more angry Dow grew. Flores sent us the transcript of the texts Dow allegedly sent her. In one, Dow allegedly threatened to call INS. (See, Flores is Hispanic, so she must be undocumented, get it? That's how rational, responsible people act -- they threaten to "call INS" on people who express concern when other people ram hoses into fresh, gaping wounds).